Sunrise, the calendar app/platform acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, has always been about integrating your schedule with as many devices and services as possible. Pierre Valade and his team wanted to build a calendar app that could go beyond a traditional representation of calendar events, and this meant opening up Sunrise to third-party services like Todoist, Wunderlist (now also part of Microsoft), Songkick, and more. Sunrise's willingness to integrate deeply with users' workflows can even be seen in Meet, a custom keyboard that brings Sunrise's scheduling features to any app.
Sunrise is launching on Apple Watch today, with another integration that rethinks a core aspect of the app for a new device. Sunrise for Apple Watch, which I've tested over the past month, puts the focus on viewing what's coming up, with an elegant UI and a glance that make it easy to check and act on upcoming events.
When I first tried Meet, Sunrise's latest addition to their popular calendar app, I didn't think it made much sense as a custom keyboard. Now, a few months later, Meet has become my favorite way to check on my availability from any app and create one-to-one meetings. With Meet, the Sunrise team has created one of the most innovative mobile calendar features I've seen in years.
Originally released in early 2013, Horizon was a calendar app developed by Kyle Rosenbluth that integrated local weather forecasts with your calendar, giving you a more contextual representation of events that contained location information. Today, Horizon 3 has been released on the App Store with a brand new design, support for natural language searches, and a timeline view that still displays your upcoming events alongside weather conditions and locations.
“On a paper calendar, what you see is what you put in. We believe that over time, you're going to put less and less stuff yourself – it's just going to come automatically.”
Since launching Sunrise in February 2013, Pierre Valade, former UX designer at Foursquare, had a busy year. Started as an iPhone app aimed at reinventing digital calendars and how people manage their schedules, Sunrise quickly gained 250,000 users, added support for Exchange calendars, and expanded to the web, iPad, OS X, and Android. Valade and his team listened to Sunrise's userbase and added better invitation management and Google Maps previews, but, more importantly, they had to deal with a data breach that forced them to switch to a new token-based authentication for iCloud. More recently, Sunrise launched native app integrations, building on the founders' vision of a calendar that extends beyond events with a developer platform to let anyone to build services connected to Sunrise.
Valade wants digital omnipresence and modern features to be key elements of Sunrise, which is still a free app with over $8 million raised in funding thus far. And today, with the launch of version 2.5 on the App Store, Valade is hoping that new functionalities such as search, push for Google Calendar, and integration with Todoist will continue to offer the value that, according to his plan, should make Sunrise an app people can't work without.
This Week, a lightweight Reminders client that I first covered in December, was updated to version 1.5 last week and relaunched under a new name: GoodTask.
Initially, This Week was a simple iPhone app to view Reminders on a weekly basis, but with time developers at haha interactive added an iPad version and support for more views besides the default weekly one. The new name reflects This Week's evolution in becoming more than a utility to check todos for the current week, and it coincides with the app's new focus on any kind of task – whether it's a reminder or an event in Calendar.
In GoodTask 1.5, calendar events can be displayed below reminders, which makes for an interesting presentation, slightly different from what apps like Fantastical and Calendars 5 are offering. Reminders and events are displayed in two different areas of the main view, and they're each color-coded to match the list or calendar they belong to. Thanks to the addition of filters, it's now possible to customize views to show a specific set of reminders and events – in the screenshot shown above, for instance, I customized my Day view to show all dated reminders and events, hiding undated and completed reminders because they're the ones I know I won't have to address on the current day. In the Settings, it's also now possible to enable special lists that collect undated and recurring tasks, making GoodTask a convenient solution to see due tasks and quickly manage the ones that have no date or that repeat over time.
I've been following the development of GoodTask since its first version, and I'm enjoying the changes and new features in version 1.5 – I'm especially a fan of the clean presentation provided by the Day view. I'm curious to see what's in store for GoodTask, which is available at $4.99 on the App Store.
Fantastical 2 is the best calendar app for iPhone, and in my review I focused on the aspects that made it a more powerful and elegant solution than Apple's Calendar and Reminders combined. Today's 2.0.1 update brings, among bug fixes and improvements, two nice changes that I'd like to point out as they've made Fantastical even better for me.
Last month, I was discussing my schedule for this Fall’s check-ups with my oncologist. During our conversation, she asked me if I had a list of all the appointments and todos that I had saved for the next weeks because she couldn’t find the department’s calendar and she doesn’t save patients’ information in her personal one.
I know that my doctor has an iPhone, and I know that she uses Apple’s Calendar and Reminders apps to manage her own schedule, so I showed her the beta of Fantastical 2 that I had on my iPhone. “You can search for events and reminders that match a keyword or location and get a single list showing all results”. She was intrigued. “For my appointments here, I save them with the hospital’s name, so I can just look for that if I want to see them all at once”. At that point, I’m pretty sure she was sold on the app. “But you can’t buy it yet”, I added with a subtle smirk.
Fantastical 2 for iPhone, released today on the App Store and on sale at $2.99 for a limited time, is one of the best iOS 7 apps I’ve tried so far and the best calendar and reminder client for iPhone, period. It improves upon several aspects of the original app and it introduces powerful new features while sporting a complete redesign that makes the app feel at home on iOS 7 without compromising its identity.
Fantastical 2 is, for my workflow, better than Apple’s built-in apps, and it builds upon the solid foundation of the original Fantastical to offer new functionalities and more flexibility. Read more
Last month, I reviewed Readdle's Calendars 5 and noted how, in spite of getting many things right with event presentation and Reminders integration, the app had been released with some dubious choices for Reminders management, date settings, and task creation. In particular, I noted how the way Readdle supposedly "enhanced" Reminders with a Today list led to more confusion than actual benefits. I concluded that Calendars 5 was a great calendar and reminders client with dozens of nice features and a good set of views, but that needed a more streamlined implementation of Reminders and reliable sync. Read more
In the past few months, I’ve been obsessed with finding the best Calendar and Reminders clients for my iPhone and iPad. While I wouldn’t call myself a calendar power user, I do rely on iCloud Calendar to organize my daily appointments and events that require my complete attention, and I’ve been lured by the simplicity and immediacy of Reminders. As I noted in my article on living with iOS 7, I’ve also been liking the OS’ new Today view in Notification Center, which gives me a summary of all the things – events or reminders – I have to do today.
I don’t like calendar apps that are limited by old rules defined by physical calendars. For instance, what’s the point of showing a full month with past events when our devices know what the current day is? Why showing empty days in views that should list upcoming events? Our devices have a little, powerful silicon brain inside them, and yet so many calendar apps – supposedly, digital assistants for the modern age – are still stuck with concepts and metaphors of two decades ago. This is a topic that other smart people have also touched upon in the past, and I recommend reading this piece by Jason Snell.
Earlier this week I was browsing the App Store and I came across Logacal, a $2.99 iPhone app developed by Czech developer Pavel Doležal. I was intrigued by the app’s clean iOS 7 design and description:
Unlike traditional month, week or day-based calendars, Logacal doesn’t split time equally, but instead depending on how far in the future it is.
Its design is vastly inspired by logarithmic scale that enables you to see and manage your calendar in a very natural and intuitive way.
Now, I’m no expert of logarithmic scales and other high level mathematical theories, but I’m good enough at clicking the Buy button in iTunes and doing some reading on Wikipedia. Apparently, some of our senses operate in a logarithmic fashion, and Pavel’s idea was to represent future days, weeks, months, and years on a scale that gets less granular as you move further in time. Read more